A New Study Finds, Vaping Among Teens May Lead To Smoking
A British study into smoking and e-cigarette use among UK teenagers has produced mixed results. It prompts the scientists to caution against altering policy decisions or public health advice until evidence becomes clearer. There may be evidence e-cigarettes could be leading UK teenagers to try tobacco smoking.
E- cigarettes act as gateway to smoking for teens
- E-cigarettes could be leading UK teenagers to try tobacco smoking
- E-cigarettes makes children nearly four times more likely to smoke
- E-cigarettes are a gateway product that leads teenagers to smoke
A British study explored smoking and e-cigarette use among UK teenagers has produced mixed results. It prompts the scientists to caution against altering policy decisions or public health advice until evidence becomes clearer. There may be evidence e-cigarettes could be leading UK teenagers to try tobacco smoking. Research suggests, trying e-cigarettes makes children nearly four times more likely to smoke tobacco within a year. A study of 14 and 15-year-olds from 20 English schools found a "robust association" between vaping and a higher probability of cigarette smoking.
Expert opinion is divided on whether e-cigarettes can act as a young person's gateway to tobacco and other drugs. The devices, which deliver nicotine "hit" without the dangerous chemicals contained in tobacco, are widely accepted as a safer option for people who already smoke.
"The findings suggest that among the teenagers who had never smoked, the use of e-cigarettes was a strong predicator that within 12 months they would have tried a conventional cigarette," said Social psychologist Professor Mark Conner, from the University Of Leeds, who led the new research.
"It is impossible to say if these young people were just experimenting with cigarettes or were becoming more regular smokers."
A total of 2,836 adolescents 14 and 15 year old were surveyed for the research. The research was published in the journal Tobacco Control.
The vast majority of the children were non-smokers, but a third had experimented with e-cigarettes.
After a year, 34% of those who had never smoked but had tried vaping admitted to smoking at least one "real" cigarette. If compared, just under 9% of children who had avoided both e-cigarettes and tobacco went on to smoke.
The research showed children were much more likely to make the jump from e-cigarettes to tobacco if they had no friends who smoked.
The evidence also showed that e-cigarettes heightened the chances of teenagers who already had a history of smoking increasing their tobacco consumption.
There was no evidence of a "causal connection between using an e-cigarette and later smoking", said Robert West, Professor of Health Psychology at University College London.
They wrote "While acknowledging that a causal relationship may be plausible, we cannot confirm this based on our findings and the trends observed over the same period in the UK".
"Given the lack of clarity regarding the mechanism linking e-cigarette and cigarette use, we need to be cautious in making policy recommendations based on our findings."
He said: "In the UK and the US, it seems unlikely that e-cigarette use by young people is causing more of them to smoke because smoking rates in this age group now are declining at least as fast as they were before e-cigarettes started to become popular."
It has been illegal since October 2015 for retailers in the UK to sell e-cigarettes or vaporising liquids to children under 18.